Stay up to date with

Responsible Drinking: How to Start the Conversation

It’s awkward, it’s painful - it’s that dreaded peer-to-peer convo on drinking responsibly. This ranks up there with the top uncomfortable conversations we all have in life, others being: talking with your parents about puberty or the classic “we need to talk” with your soon-to-be ex. All of them are not-so-fun, but necessary to have, nonetheless.

Responsible drinking isn’t exactly your standard party ice breaker. How do you begin to bring it up without sounding like a complete buzzkill?

What exactly does it mean to “drink responsibly?”

Responsible drinking means something different to everyone. And despite what some of your friends may think or say, or the way it’s depicted in pop culture, it is possible to drink alcohol without getting belligerent. For those of us who are over 21, it can be nice to relax and have an adult beverage after class or work. However, when you hit the party scene – sipping often turns to chugging, and relaxation can quickly progress to regret.

Drinking responsibly means understanding how alcohol affects your body and tolerance, and then using that knowledge to moderate your intake. It also means being proactive when it comes to consuming alcohol by planning ahead.

Tips & Tricks

Getting the conversation started is half of the battle. My go-to is to get on a casual level. That way, I make it clear that I’m coming from a place of curiosity and caring, rather than one of judgement.

One approach that I’ve noticed to be really successful is using drinking and drugs in the media. There’s no doubt that the media paints an elaborate picture making drinking and partying look glamorous. While this isn’t a positive thing, it does allow for some easy conversation starters when discussing responsible drinking.

[ Ex: “Did you see the last episode of [INSERT TV/Netflix/Hulu SHOW HERE] where [NAME] gets trashed?! I never want to get like that!” ]

You instantly have a reference point, one that shows someone’s consumption getting out of control, and you aren’t forced to use one of your friends as an example. It also starts things off very casually, which will hopefully open the doors for an easy conversation about how getting wasted can make you look and feel horribly.

This might not work in every situation, so if you still feel like you need some help getting starting, I recommend being honest with your friends about your feelings on drinking responsibly. Simply tell them that it’s important to you that everyone keep control of their consumption, ensuring a good time for each person involved.

Make a plan

When you know you’re going to have a big night out with friends, always plan ahead how you will safely get home. The easiest and most cost-effective way is to have a designated driver. If you drove last week, suggest someone else drives this week. Being the designated driver might not sound like the best deal at first, but it can have its perks. You’ll keep your friends safe, and the next day you can tell them about all of the funny things that happened the night before.

If no one is jumping at this opportunity, try a different route. We are lucky to live in a world where a ride is only a tap of your finger away. Taking a taxi or using a ride share app is a safe and reliable way to get everyone from Point A to Point B, and everyone can have a drink. Depending on the distance you’re traveling, it can be relatively affordable when you all split the cost.

Know the consequences

The most important part of drinking responsibly is realizing the consequences of not doing so can be long term and potentially life threatening.’s Virtual Bar is an awesome tool to help you understand how different factors – height, weight, gender, how much food or water you’ve had – affect your BAC. Try it out with your friends - you’ll be surprised. To make things even easier, there’s a free Virtual Bar app you can download from iTunes and Google Play!

Make a pact with your friends to never let each other drive drunk.

Chances are, the conversation won’t actually be as difficult as you anticipated once you find a way to bring it up naturally. The consequences of not having the conversation are much worse, so try out some of these tips and see how you can get the responsible drinking convo going!

Corinne Keating is a 22 year old Philly native who loves health and wellness. Find more from Corinne in her blog: WhysoWell. 

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( or any member.*

Receive the Latest News and Research

Welcome to! We’d love to have you as part of our community. We send updates on how you can help end drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and make responsible choices about alcohol. Get our news straight to your inbox.

No Thanks